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June 27, 2013

Obama examines slave trade on first day of African visit



President Barack Obama peered out the open door of a former slave house that looks out on the Atlantic Ocean. He was alone for a brief moment in the door, looking out into the ocean and then to his right and left.

His wife, Michelle, joined him and then his daughters took a glance. Finally, he returned to the door for another long look.

The door was the last location for slaves being shipped to North America. The waves of the ocean crashing on the rocks could be heard.

Large, enthusiastic crowds greeted Obama on his first day in Africa with some spectators lining the streets to catch a glimpse hours before he even departed his hotel. Local newspapers were filled with articles and ads, some urging Obama to keep sending money to combat AIDS/HIV. Thousands of American flags and posters, large and small, welcomed the United States’ first black president to the continent where his father was born. “Welcome home, President Obama” one sign read. “We hope you enjoy your stay.”

Obama is scheduled to depart Senegal Friday for South Africa, but the fragile condition of Nelson Mandela, the ailing former president and anti-apartheid leader, threatens to complicate his trip to Pretoria and Cape Town.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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